The Dodgers have once again fielded one of baseball’s best pitching groups in 2021, tied with the San Diego Padres for second with a 3.15 team ERA. Their starters have done even better, pitching to the tune of a 2.93 ERA through the first 70 games.
While injuries have been an issue all season, there is one in particular that stands out given the way the team currently stands. Josiah Gray has long been a household name as a top prospect for LA, and 2021 looked to be the year that he finally broke through. This has not been the case, however, as a lingering shoulder injury has limited him to a single appearance for AAA Oklahoma City.
Quantity has not been an issue for this team, as there were plenty of major league pitchers ahead of Gray on the depth chart. Even so, manager Dave Roberts revealed on Saturday afternoon that the team planned to use him as a way to limit the innings for their main starters before his injury removed him from consideration.
That was sort of the plan at the outset of the season, but with [Josiah Gray], I think he’s just maybe playing catch. I don’t think he’s throwing pens or let alone facing hitters. So he’s sort of a ways down the road. Hopefully we can revisit this conversation down the road and he can be a part of things.
The innings count for the Dodgers pitching staff will be a storyline to follow as the second half of the season nears, especially with players like Buehler and Urías on track to reach 200 innings pitched for the first time in their respective careers.
The Dodgers will have to get creative if they want to keep their arms fresh for the month of October, but that’s never been an issue for this front office. In the event that Gray is not able to contribute this season, it would not be surprising to see guys like David Price and Jimmy Nelson get spot starts in ‘bullpen games’ where they go 2-3 innings in order to give their starters an extra day of rest. At the end of the day, the Dodgers still have one of the deepest teams in baseball. They should have plenty of opportunities to prove it as they continue the hunt for a second consecutive title.